Russia launches new missile defense to cover Atlantic
Medvedev personally arrived in Russia’s westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad and received a report from the Space Defense Troops commander that the radar station was fully ready for the launch. After this, the president gave the order to put the radar on combat duty.At the ceremony Medvedev said that the radar launch was a sign to the Western partners that Russia was ready to promptly respond to threats that arise with the start of the European missile defense. "I expect that this step will be regarded by Western partners as the first signal of our country's readiness to appropriately respond to the threats posed by the missile defense system to our strategic nuclear forces," the Russian President said.After the launch the president held a conference with top commanders of the Russian Military Forces. There he said that Russia was ready to listen to proposals on missile defense, but repeated that “verbal statements alone will not suffice."“If our signal is not heard, as I said on November 23 we will deploy other means of defense, including approving harsh counter-measures and the deployment of a strike group,” Medvedev said. “If other steps are taken, we are ready to listen to them, but in any case, verbal statements alone will not suffice,” the president said. "When they tell us ‘this is not meant against you,’ I would like to say the following today – dear friends, this radar station that started its work today is also not meant against you. But it is meant for us and for the tasks that we set before us,” Medvedev said.The Voronezh-DM station has been working in test mode for the whole of 2011. There were no technical failures over this period, Interfax news agency reported, quoting a source in the Defense Ministry. The source also said that the Kaliningrad station will be the third of its kind, with the first two already working in Leningrad and Krasnodar Regions.With the effective detection range of 6,000 kilometers, the Voronezh-DM is processing the reports of missile strikes on military and civilian combat posts. The station is capable of working in connection with Moscow’s missile defense system.The commander of the Russian Space Defense Troops, Lieutenant-General Oleg Ostapenko has said earlier that the new station in Kaliningrad would allow control of the entire European and Atlantic regions.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last week said that Russia would strengthen its defenses and deploy missiles and anti-missile components to Kaliningrad as a reply to the US and NATO constant push towards creating the European Missile Defense system with components stationed near the Russian border.Russia opposes the program, saying it threatens the balance of nuclear forces and demands legally-binding guarantees that the system will not be used against it. The Western side says the new missile defense it built against the threat from rogue states, but so far provided no such guarantees to Russia.